TENET [23/september/2020] Score: 10/10 This is the one everyone is currently raving about, in its mind-twisting and eye-bending visual style. Yet the story underlying it all is, relatively-speaking, simple: someone in the future is bent on destroying the world and uses a time-bending technology to go about their evil plan. Yes, the story twists and turns like a pan-dimensional sparrow chipping away at a god’s liver, but it’s not all that difficult. Or maybe that’s just me and everyone who’s been scratching their heads about this is right. I think not. If you need your fix of mental stimulus to get you out of the world-wide health crisis and end-of-the-world nonsense spouted in reality then this is an excellent escape to keep your brain working. Verdict: Good, spelt backwards, is Doog.
The New Mutants [22/september/2020] Score: 7/10 After many years’ wait (and that doesn’t even include the COVID hysteria in the world today) we see the arrival of some New Mutants. The grimy end of the X-type people with the focus entirely on the teen angst so common in much comicbook drama. At least this doesn’t suffer from an eye-straining excess of spandex, lycra and vastly overly written villains who spend all their time shouting monologues. As such this is a long-overdue antidote to the regular fix of heroes and welcome break from the gloss, and perhaps perfectly suited to this exact moment in the world. Verdict: A good New experience of an old formula.
Misbehaviour [13/march/2020] Score: 7/10 A revolution begins with passion and here’s a legendary story of passion to break the bounds of society and find freedom in many different ways. The true story of the formation of the Women’s Liberation Movement in London and their first achievement in changing world attitudes by challenging the bastion of male sex – the Miss World Contest, in front of millions of TV viewers around the world. Their achievement can’t be understates, but here the focus of the story is opened much wider to consider the women in the Contest itself and their own achievements. Bringing this to a new generation, post #MeToo is worth every minute of attention. It can’t cover every single details of what remains an immensely complex subject, which is still ongoing, but it all began here. Verdict: Clever Girls.
Onward [12/march/2020] Score: 6/10 Another animated coming-of-age quest that begins flat but builds up into a fulfilling conclusion of an adventure that explores the popular American theme of family, togetherness and “finding yourself”, and all that, with elves. Verdict: A trip that doesn’t trip up too much.
Bloodshot [12/march/2020] Score: 4/10 It’s based on a comicbook and appears (without knowing the original sources material) to stick to an ever-popular theme for adolescent boys to enjoy – sexy girls and big guns, lots of big guns. There can’t really be much character development in this origin story of yet another superhero made into a super-weapon with advanced super-science and technology. Driven to revenge for the death of his sexy and beautiful wife he’s assisted by another beautiful woman and a few former Special Forces victims of the same process as himself. Taking leaps and bounds through the story it throws in a light comedy to relieve the endless shooting and generic American Big Evil Corporation (yes, another one) conspiracies. If you need a break from all the drudgery of the real world then this will pass the times. If you need a brain you need an upgrade to a different level of this simulation. Verdict: Shoot quickly though it and on to the next comic.
Dark Waters [9/march/2020] Score: 7/10 There are many Hollywood fantasy stories of Big Evil Corporations, so many you could believe this was just another genre of fiction, until you realize they are all inspired by the real corruptions and murderous evil of Big American Corporations just doing their business in the world. Here is the true story of DuPont, one of the biggest and foulest chemical corporations which systematically covered up a poisonous truth about one of their products that poisoned the world. From small traces in almost every living human on Earth, through to birth defects and death in children and adults exposed to it on a large scale, they spent decades hiding the truth from the world just to make their profits. As with all these stories it is often a small mistake, a slip-up or slip out of information that slowly spirals out of control as the truth finally leaks to the world. And as with many of these true stories it is the work of one or two diligent people to uncover that truth. It’s almost impossible to give justice to such stories, the scope of damage to human life, the level of greed and corruption, so, like many other such true stories, this takes the experience of the first lawyer in American who began to unravel the web of lies and power to bring the truth to light, taking over a decade to do so. Verdict: Dark truths, dark evil, bright future?
Military Wives [9/march/2020] Score: 8/10 How do you handle the fear, the stress and the love, the hope, the desire and passion in life when your partner faces death at any minute and you can’t be there for them? You sing your soul out. That was the answer for one group of British Army wives a few years ago when their soldiers were sent on tour in Afghanistan and left them behind at home, to worry and fear the worst every days. After bumbling around to find some way to keep busy and keep the fear under control they found an expression for their hearts – forming a singing choir. A true story that follows their experiences as they stumbled into creating the first Army Wives Choir. There’s no way any film can recreate the entire story, but here is the genesis through to their ultimate achievement of a major public appearance that change their world and that of thousands of military families around the world, to lift their hearts and give hope for everyone. It’s not a perfect film, no great setting, no great drama, just the typical real world of slowly getting together, discovering a voice and mastering it and their own fears. Verdict: Sings with you all the way.
Birds of Prey [7/february/2020] Score: 6/10 An origin story and sequel to launch the career of one Harley Quinn, Thief, Hitwoman and Life Coach, and some occasional “Associates” in a life of anti-crime outside the limits of law and (ha!) order. Dear Diary, and so we have an adventure, in which Mistress Quinn embarks on a New Life, and all that crap, free from Mr J. Does it hang together, and can the girls-about-town hang out without killing each other? Just about It kind of just about hangs together with its dark humour and female-led/dominated, there are probably a few witty lines and “looks” that the ladies in the audience will “really get”, but there is just an off-ward eccentricity to the humour, like a spinning top that’s out of balance, which might not quite work at it tries to bring all the key characters and their “Life Stories” together in a single sweep. Cramming so much crazy-madness and hysteria into one story might just about work, but I wonder if it needed a little more time to build up the whole story and all the characters rather then jump-cutting around everything? Considering it is essentially a focus on Miss Quinn this can be forgiven. Verdict: A Hit, but She won’t Kill you, today.
The Rhythm Section [6/february/2020] Score: 5/10 A standard revenge-spy-thriller with modern fashion of woman on the trail of revenge after loosing her family in a terrorist attack,conveniently finding a spy to teach her how to be a killer-spy (not typical in the real world) and much more adventure in assorted scenic parts of the world. Verdict: A moderate rhythm and temperate beat.
Queen & Slim [31/january/2020] Score: 5/10 WARNING: SPOILERS. There is a sub-genre of dramatic American road trips involving runaways being pursued by cops as the runaways veer more and more outside the “normal” lives of good Americans. This is another in that genre, and doesn’t really do good service to the underlying theme of racism currently running through American society and culture. In a way this story glamorises something which deserves a more intelligent and thrilling police/courtroom procedural story. Instead of giving audiences the tools to fight the ongoing inequalities of American society, this just adds a glamour to the old tradition of the “Bonny & Clyde” legend complete with the mandatory shoot out at the end in which the undeserving “heroes” are butchered to maintain the status quo before being turned into safe heroic icons printed on T-shirts. Verdict: A slim opportunity with no crowning justice.
The Personal History of David Copperfield [25/january/2020] Score: 7/10 Some will say it was brave to cast widely for the players in this well-staged comedy drama based on the work on one Mr Charles Dickens. Some are idiots in focussing on the casting and less on the witty drama as one Master Copperfield struggles through monstrous characters and horrors of the early Victorian era of brutal greed and corruption, a careless society bursting with much disruption of society and the social orders of past times. ~We complain about our modern world of, the horror, environmentalism, and spare not a with of thought for the real dislocations of the world as the Industrial Revolution burst on the world and ripped it up by the roots. Here, then is one repeatedly told tale portrayed by an excellent cast given the opportunity to burst out of the shackles of conventional norms to send your mind and thoughts spinning with delight. Verdict: Let the play take you away.
Just Mercy [22/january/2020] Score: 8/10 We always need reminding of the natural heroism in the real world, when a few talented and strong individuals come together for justice against greed, corruption and brutality. Here is another reminder of hope and possibility in the world against some of the worst, cold-hearted injustice and how a few with the right kind of strength and backing are able to bring some justice where there was none. It is a difficult challenge, to capture the sense of despair for those waiting on American’s death rows, the fear of death and horror of gross injustice when innocent men are condemned through the inaction or corruption of others. It is good to know there are a few willing to act and help, better to learn these lessons and ensure it never happens in the first place. So here is a warning for those who are blind to injustice and corruption. Verdict: The light in darkest despair.
Bad Boys For Life [22/january/2020] Score: 5/10 The kind of film which offers a form of “retirement ” story, the opposite end of the traditional coming-of-age themes, where heroes must face the consequences of their past deeds. So, a chance to look back on the fun adventures of the past, and consider the values of “family” and family of friends, and consider the future. With a light-hearted action-adventure, and much police warfare along the way, to a conclusion that can satisfy all fans, but doesn’t challenge you too much. If you need a break from winter gloom this will cheer you up. Verdict: Good for boys.
Bombshell [21/january/20202] Score: 6/10 There are a number of stories about sexual harassment in the workplace showing up nowadays and this tells the first of the high profile events that broke the news world-wide. It’s rushed story that tries to tell everything and sweep you through the lives and times, events and experiences in the style of a high-intensity newsroom, pacing briskly through events that would leave you disoriented if it weren’t for the performances of the leading characters. With so many characters it’s difficult to track everything as the story breezes through the highlights and ignores the depths of all that went into this climatic breakthrough in public attitudes to sexual oppression; but there is enough to engage you and give you a sense of what went on, why it all happened and the powerful effects on the participants. Yet there is still a feeling that this glamourization doesn’t do justice to the real experiences of so many women abused by a small number of powerful men. Verdict: We’re going to need a bigger bomb.
1917 [11/january/2020] Score: 10/10 It’s almost impossible to convey the reality of war, its mindless brutality at one moment and the long drawn out periods of peace and utter boredom the next, but this film tries to give you a flavour of the horrible beauty of it all through the journey of the two leading characters. The film is promoted as an almost single shot, intimately following the journey of the two characters through the battlefield, but that’s a distraction from the story, adding to the sense of pace but encouraging you to look out for the joins in the filming. Ignore that feature and you have a dramatic story that deserves the widest following. Verdict: Capture this before it fades into history.
Seberg [10/january/2020] Score: 8/10 A lonely solitude and near-paranoid terror of persecution suffered by film star Jean Seberg at the end of the 1960s when she pitched her support for the Black liberation movements in America and was hounded near to death by the American Government’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Played with a natural understatement and poise her story is teased out over the two or three years during which she was harassed illegally by the forces of the government. Not paranoid that she was being persecuted she WAS driven to extreme action in the insanity of their conspiracy against her. There is no dramatic drama, no heroic rescue, just a lone woman fighting the shadows of hatred focussed on her. Verdict: Heroic poise.
The Gentlemen [02/january/2020] Score: 9/10 No gentlemen here, more the brutal lions of the jungle tearing each other apart in a furious battle of survival down in London/gangstaland. So if you want a brisk pace of humour and murder, of characters dancing around each other with words and bullets, of the daft and glorious opera of violence that can only come from London, then here is your pick-me-up post-Christmas to send a chill and thrill through your blood. Verdict: Vintage Guy Richie. The Loin’s gotta eat, you.